Yellowjackets

PizzaExpress Live (Holborn)

An outgrowth of L.A. Express guitarist Robben Ford’s band founded in 1977, the Yellowjackets came to full buzzing flight four years later with its debut eponymous jazz-funk album, a salient introduction to a new-styled electric fusion of jazz and R&B—a modern take on Weather Report, if you will—for the post Return to Forever/Headhunters decade. The band was an immediate and controversial hit at the time when the jazz pendulum was beginning to swing back in the acoustic direction. Some skeptics didn’t give the Yellowjackets a chance to survive, but here it is 35 years later—hardly trailing the segmented 40-year longevity of MJQ—and the group stretches its impressive longevity by continuing to evolve artistically with its third Mack Avenue Records recording, Cohearence.

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With two founding members—pianist/keyboardist Russell Ferrante and drummer Will Kennedy—and its longtime reeds player Bob Mintzer (a Jacket since 1990) and a brand-new virtuoso electric bassist, Australia-born Dane Alderson, the Yellowjackets cover a range of jazz flavors, including a rousing Weather Report jazz fusion vibe, a swinging switch-up on John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” a moving rendition of a folk song classic, a funky soul-jazz excursion and a chamber jazz-like grace in the album end-song, “Coherence.”

With its pockets of halcyon, buoyance, mystery, tumult and whimsy, Cohearence plays out as a multifaceted documentation of how far the once fusion band has come.

Band Lineup

Russell Ferrante (keys)

Bob Mintzer (sax)

Dane Alderson (dass)

William Kennedy (drums)